Network administrators manage a network using skills, processes and tools to ensure network resources—such as the hardware, storage, memory, bandwidth, data and processing power available on the network—are made readily accessible to users and services as efficiently and securely as possible. For example, an organization's IT staff may prioritize access to processing power and memory on the network for mission-critical applications versus less-essential or nonessential applications.
An organization may outsource some or all aspects of network management to a managed services provider (MSP) to free up internal IT staff or when in-house network capabilities and expertise are limited. An MSP may manage basic network access and transport services like local area network (LAN) and wide area network (WAN) lines, as well as manage more complex connections like those found in a software-defined WAN (SD-WAN) network.
You may also hear or see the term "network management" used to reference the IT system administrators and network operations centers (NOCs) use to perform provisioning, configuration management, fault management, performance management, security management and other network management tasks.
While network management refers to the tasks administrators perform to maintain and secure a network, the network management system—also known as network management software—is a tool that the administrators use for performing those tasks. More specifically, a network management system collects real-time data from network devices and gives administrators a central point of control where they can govern network security policies, allocate network resources and more. For example, a network administrator can set a failover policy for mission-critical applications to automatically switch to memory from a backup location should a network disruption threaten primary service access.
Network management systems enable:
In network management, tasks include:
A network management protocol defines the processes, procedures and policies for managing, monitoring and maintaining the network. It is how network administrators acquire and view information from a network device regarding availability, network latency, packet/data loss and errors via a network management system.
A network management system can also collect information from devices automatically through a network management protocol for automated tasks such as updating software or performance monitoring. Examples of network management protocols include:
The benefits of network management include:
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